What causes boredom

Boredom: Causes and Treatment

Though boredom is a feeling that most people experience from time to time, there are many ways to address and prevent it.

What is boredom?

Boredom is a common feeling. Feeling unsatisfied by an activity, or uninterested in it, can lead to boredom.

Boredom may occur when you feel energetic but have nowhere to direct your energy. It may also occur when you have difficulty focusing on a task.

Boredom is a common complaint among children and adolescents. In some cases, they may also complain of boredom when they’re uncomfortable dealing with their thoughts or feelings.

Boredom is marked by an empty feeling, as well as a sense of frustration with that emptiness.

When you’re bored, you may have a limited attention span and lack of interest in what’s happening around you. You may also feel apathetic, fatigued, nervous, or jittery.

In some cases, boredom can make it more challenging to focus and cause you to feel stressed or distracted.

People identify and experience boredom differently. In some cases, boredom may occur due to:

  • inadequate rest or nutrition
  • low levels of mental stimulation
  • lack of choice or control over your daily activities
  • lack of diversified recreational interests
  • poor perception of time

You or child may become bored while engaged in an activity due to:

  • loss of interest
  • confusing instructions
  • fear of making a mistake
  • repetition of the activity for too much time
  • feeling unable to try new approaches to the activity

In some cases, chronic boredom can also be a sign of certain mental health conditions, including depression.

While there is no specific medical treatment for boredom, there are plenty of solutions if you’re experiencing boredom.

For example, you may want to consider trying some new hobbies or other new diversional activities.

Joining a club can be a good way to thwart your boredom. Reading clubs, hobby groups, or exercise groups are all great places to start. Participating in a community group that organizes activities or outings is another great options.

You can also help your child cope with feelings of boredom when they arise.

When they complain of boredom, encourage them to communicate and address their feelings without questioning the validity. Take time to help them identify the causes of their boredom and find creative solutions.

For best results:

  • Don’t question whether or not your child “should” be bored.
  • Avoid responding to your child’s complaints of boredom with impatience or anxiety.
  • Ask open-ended questions to stimulate their creativity in finding interesting solutions for alleviating boredom.
  • Recognize that your child’s complaint of boredom may be their way of trying to engage your attention or asking to participate in an activity.
  • Help your child identify any other emotional issues or feelings that they may be identifying as boredom.
  • Help your child find an engaging activity or one you can participate in together.

If boredom is part of larger issue, like depression, you should seek treatment from a mental health professional. Talking to a doctor about your feelings will help them understand your needs and identify the best course of treatment for you.

Here are some simple tips you can try to prevent boredom:

  • Keep a record of the circumstances in which you or your child becomes bored. Note the time of day, place, and activities preceding the boredom, so you can avoid those circumstances or prepare for possible boredom in the future.
  • Make routine tasks more interesting by adding a unique element. For example, start timing tasks to see how fast you can do them.
  • Combine multiple repetitive tasks so they can be done together.
  • Break larger tasks into smaller ones and plan breaks or rewards at key milestones.
  • Create a list of activities to try when boredom strikes. If your child is the one feeling bored, try creating this list together.
  • Establish a special area where you or your child can store activities reserved specifically for battling boredom.
  • Be prepared to take time out to work with your child to set up an activity when they’re bored.

Boredom is common in all ages and some boredom is unavoidable.

However, learning how to deal with boredom at a young age will develop problem-solving skills that can be beneficial in the future.

Why do I get bored easily?

Feeling bored easily can be caused by many different factors, including decreased mental stimulation or a lack of control over activities in your daily life.

Interestingly, research suggests that some people are prone to experiencing boredom more frequently, which may also be linked to decreased attention span, self-control, and self-esteem.

What emotional or mental health problems can be related to boredom?

For some people, boredom may be used as a way to disconnect from negative feelings or experiences that can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with.

Additionally, chronic boredom can be a sign of depression. If you experience other symptoms of depression like decreased energy levels, unintentional weight loss, or sleep disturbances, you should consider talking to a healthcare professional to determine the cause and best course of treatment for you.

What are the benefits of boredom?

In some cases, boredom may actually be beneficial.

In fact, feeling bored can help push you to try new activities or explore other hobbies and interests. It can also promote self-awareness and problem-solving by encouraging you to identify the cause of your boredom so that you can address it.

Eight Reasons Why We Get Bored

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The most common way to define boredom in Western culture is having nothing to do. Boredom is generally viewed as an unpleasant emotional state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity. The condition corresponds more precisely to the French ennui, an existential perception of life’s futility. Ennui is a consequence of unfulfilled aspirations (Goodstein, 2005).

Boredom is a universal experience. Almost everyone suffers from it in the course of their lives. Existing survey estimates show that between 30 percent and 90 percent of American adults experience boredom at some point in their daily lives, as do 91 percent to 98 percent of youth (Chin et al., 2017). Men are generally more bored than women. There is also a positive link between very low educational attainment and boredom.

Boredom is predictive of loneliness, anger ("cabin fever"), sadness, and worry. As Kierkegaard remarked, boredom is “the root of all evil.” Boredom is such a motivating force that people do all kinds of things to ease the pain. The chronically bored are at higher risk for drug addiction, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling.

Here are a few main causes of boredom:

1. Monotony in the Mind

Boredom is similar to mental fatigue and is caused by repetition and lack of interest in the details of our tasks (such as tasks that require continuous attention, waiting at the airport, prisoners locked in cells). Any experience that is predictable and repetitive becomes boring. In general, too much of the same thing and too little stimulation can cause in its victim an absence of desire and a feeling of entrapment (Toohey, 2012).

2. Lack of Flow

Flow is a state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities, akin to “being in the zone.” Flow occurs when a person’s skills match the level of challenge presented by the environment and when a task includes clear goals and immediate feedback. Tasks that are too easy are boring. In contrast, tasks that people perceive to be too difficult lead to anxiety.

3. Need for Novelty

Some individuals are more likely to be bored than others. People with a strong need for novelty, excitement, and variety are at risk of boredom. These sensation seekers (e.g., skydivers) are likely to find that the world moves too slowly. The need for external stimulation may explain why extroverts tend to be particularly prone to boredom. Novelty-seeking and risk-taking is the way that these people self-medicate to cure their boredom.

4. Paying Attention

Boredom is linked to problems with attention. What bores us never fully engages our attention. After all, it is hard to be interested in something when you cannot concentrate on it. People with chronic attention problems, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, have a high tendency for boredom.

5. Emotional Awareness

People who lack self-awareness are more prone to boredom. A bored individual is unable to articulate what it is that he or she desires or wants to do. They have trouble describing their feelings. An inability to know what will make one happy can lead to a more profound existential boredom. Not knowing what we are searching for means that we lack the capacity to choose appropriate goals for engagement with the world (Eastwood, 2012).

6. Inner Amusement Skills

Individuals lacking the inner resources to deal with boredom constructively will rely on external stimulation. In the absence of inner amusement skills, the external world will always fail to provide enough excitement and novelty.

7. Lack of Autonomy

People feel boredom a lot when they feel trapped. And feeling trapped is a big part of boredom. That is, they are stuck or constrained so that their will cannot be executed. For example, adolescence is a peak period for boredom, largely because children and teenagers are not given a lot of control over what they want to do.

8. The Role of Culture

In many ways, boredom is a modern luxury (Spacks, 1996). Boredom was literally nonexistent until the late 18th century. It came into being as the Enlightenment was giving way to the Industrial Revolution. Early in human history, when our ancestors had to spend most of their days securing food and shelter, boredom wasn't an option.

Boredom also has its benefits. It is important to see boredom as a “call to action” (Svendsen, 1999). Nietzsche suggested that men of rare sensibility value boredom as an impetus to achievement. Boredom can be a catalyst for action. It can provide an opportunity for thought and reflection. It can also be a sign that a task is a waste of time—and thus not worth continuing.

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Why we are bored and how it can be dangerous


Why we are bored and how it can be dangerous

Alexandra Urman

March 7, 2017 19:23

when you can finally do nothing. In fact, it turns out that idle pastime often brings boredom. Afisha Daily figured out what exactly it could be dangerous.

What is boredom

A recent study found that idle time makes people bored and unhappy. From a scientific point of view, boredom began to be studied quite recently. In 2012, psychologists at York University in Toronto attempted for the first time to come up with a scientific definition of the condition. They studied hundreds of theories and conducted many interviews to find out exactly how people feel when they are bored. As a result, scientists were able to define boredom in terms of attention: a person is bored at the moment when he not only has nothing to do, he wants to do something, but for some reason cannot focus his attention on any business.

Why we get bored

Psychologists have identified factors that contribute to the appearance of this feeling:

For a person to feel bored, he must be in a state of strong psychological arousal. At the same time, he wants to direct his energy to some activity, but nothing attracts his attention. If a person is not particularly excited, then he will not be bored - he will feel relaxed.

Boredom occurs more often in situations where people cannot control what is happening. Therefore, we get bored in queues at the supermarket or at airports when we are waiting to board a delayed flight. Usually, when we don't like what we are doing, we just switch to another activity. But in these cases it is not easy to change occupation - and we get bored.

An object that causes boredom also often causes irritation and hatred, and these emotions can persist for a long time. A good example is "boring" works from the school literature curriculum. As a rule, if a person does not like a book, he can simply put it aside and take up another one. But the books from the school curriculum were mandatory reading, so they began to annoy. It is precisely because of boredom that people continue to dislike the disliked works of the school curriculum even in adulthood.

Boredom as an engine of progress

Behavioral economists at Carnegie Mellon University believe that boredom is a brain signal that mental resources are being used inefficiently, which means that a person should switch to another activity. According to University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, boredom, like other emotions, appeared as a result of human evolutionary development with a specific purpose. So fear and excitement were necessary for survival. And boredom is to spur mental development. Without it, according to Duckworth, we would simply repeat the same actions over and over again. Boredom makes us move on and switch to new activities when the old ones can no longer teach us anything.

Why is boredom dangerous? But a causal relationship between these phenomena has not been established. It is not clear whether depression and various addictions cause a feeling of boredom or vice versa. It has also been found that those who constantly complain of boredom are more likely than others to die young. However, it is possible that early deaths are associated with aggressive behavior and addictions, and not directly with boredom.

How to deal with boredom

Boredom is directly related to mind wandering—when people are bored, they become lost in thought, which often makes them feel even more bored. For this reason, it is especially boring for us to be alone with ourselves and our own thoughts for a long time. Scientists believe that the best way to get rid of boredom is to focus on some activity. People who are constantly busy with something are rarely bored and, on average, are happier.

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Boredom is a symptom: 5 explanations for a banal emotion - Ideonomics - Smart about the essentials

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My mother called boredom nothing more than "the s-word". If I wanted to piss her off (I usually didn't), all I had to do was tell her I was bored. Her attitude to boredom was purely philosophical, like everything else. If you're bored, it's not because there's nothing to do. It's because you haven't put in enough effort to keep yourself busy.

It turns out that my mother was not so wrong after all.

Boredom has become fashionable today. Research shows how beneficial it is for creativity and innovation, as well as for mental health. For example, a 2014 study published in the Creativity Research Journal found that people are more creative after completing the most boring task. According to another study published in the same year in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, when people are bored, “associative thinking” — the process of making new connections between ideas, which is associated with innovative thinking — increases. These studies are impressive, but in fact, the benefits of boredom may be due to the fact that you have time to free your mind, be calm or daydream.

The truth about boredom

The truth is that real boredom is not fun. One study published in Science found that participants would rather experience an electric shock than sit and think in silence for 6 to 15 minutes. In addition, a study from the University of Washington says boredom is on the rise, especially among teenage girls. This is a problem as boredom can lead to negative outcomes ranging from overeating to problems with drugs, alcohol or gambling.

It seems unrealistic that in our stimulus-rich world boredom could ever occur. However, there are explanations for why boredom can be so painful. It turns out that it indicates that you have a need that is not being met.

Boredom can indicate a desire to communicate more

Our world of social networking can lead to a lot of connections, but they are superficial and do not create a real sense of belonging. Being bored can signal a desire to be more included in the community and feel like you belong there. So join a club, organization or association to meet people and make new friends. This will give you a depth of communication that you can't get from a screen, no matter how many likes your post gets.

Boredom can indicate a need to contribute

Boredom often indicates that people feel little sense. It's a fundamental human need to have a bigger purpose and to feel like you're a part of something bigger. A 2007 University of Mississippi study found that when people are bored, they are more likely to experience less meaning in life, and vice versa. What’s more, a 2016 study by the University of Southampton found that people feel happier when they start volunteering. If you want less boredom and more meaning, look for a job that matters to you, where you can make a unique contribution, or find a cause that you can support with your time and talents.

Boredom can indicate that you need more challenges in your life

People have different needs for stimulation and adrenaline rushes, but in general boredom can be a signal that you need a little push. It can be stress at work or on vacation. After all, happiness comes from facing challenges and developing new skills, and scrolling through your social media feed does nothing of the sort. So find opportunities to try something new, whether it's skydiving, a tough project at work, or a new hobby that you enjoy.

Boredom can mean you need more variety.

One aspect of boredom is the feeling that everything is the same, day after day and week after week. Some predictability is good for mental health, but diversity in life is also good. Make friends with different people, join an unexpected interest group at work, or read something new to yourself. It is important to expand your view of the world and shake up everyday life.

Boredom can signal the need to delve into something

In Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, journalist Nicholas Carr reveals how the human brain has changed to skim the surface without delving deeper into things. But the ability to look deep, to penetrate the essence - these are signs of empathy, connectedness and happiness. Find a case that is so exciting that you can get lost in it, or tackle a difficult problem. Such deep thinking can greatly alleviate boredom.

If you think being bored means being silent, thoughtful, and meditative, keep it up. But if you're struggling with real boredom and the emptiness it causes, think about it: maybe you need new connections, more meaning, bigger challenges, a variety of experiences, or more depth. This will ease boredom and make you more efficient.

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